Awakenings Rouses the Techno Masses with US Debut

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Since its Dutch origins way back in 1997, Awakenings has become known as a holy ground—a sort of untouchable Holy Grail—for US techno aficionados who have kept tabs on the event and salivated over its jaw-dropping lineups and production throughout the years. However, despite the global reverence, Awakenings has never made it over to the US—that is, until this past weekend, when it descended upon the Hammerstein Ballroom for an unforgettable debut.

The brand dipped its feet in American waters last summer with a stage at New York City’s Electric Zoo: Transformed, but this past weekend’s event represented Awakenings’ first-ever standalone show in North America. Running from 10 PM – 6 AM, Awakenings US boasted eight hours of blazing techno from some of the genre’s brightest stars, all underscored with a gargantuan, bespoke production befitting the top-notch beats being served all night.

Pan-Pot delivered the set of the night. | Photo: Stephen Bondio

Pan-Pot delivered the set of the night. | Photo: Stephen Bondio

While the weather was positively frightful—with frigid temperatures requiring most of the attendees to cover their all-black ensembles with all-black outerwear—the atmosphere inside the Manhattan venue was steamy. Things began to heat up with an opening back-to-back set between Kamran Sadeghi and the buzzworthy Julia Govor, the proceedings truly turned up once German duo Pan-Pot took to the decks.

The Berlin boys’ palpable excitement for the massive event was evident, which is no surprise for anyone who saw them dish their love for Awakenings to DJ Times TV a few weeks back. The pair dropped the set of night onto the cavernous ballroom, which housed a production that didn’t quite reach the supernatural levels of Awakenings Amsterdam in the pyro-filled dome of Gashouder, but was massively impressive for a Manhattan showing. The magic of Pan-Pot’s sets lies in the duo’s keen understanding of tension, release, and dancefloor drama, masterfully balancing throbbing techno belters with atmospheric soundscapes that truly take revelers on a journey. This skill was out in full force on Sunday, with key cuts like Mario Ochoa’s “Asteroids” and Enrico Sangiuliano’s remix of Vangelis Kostoxenakis’ “Son Of A Gun” paving the way for the boys’ euphoric, rave-inspired finale of “The Clear Path” by Reform (It).

The drums were as prominent as ever for Nicole Moudaber's set. | Photo: Stephen Bondio

The drums were as prominent as ever for Nicole Moudaber’s set. | Photo: Stephen Bondio

Immediately after, percussion queen Nicole Moudaber teamed up with Victor Calderone for a rousing sequel to their late-night B2B set at the Brooklyn Mirage this past September. Nicole’s penchant for rolling bass and relentless energy propelled the early portion of the set, but Victor’s selections kept things melodic and groovy in a brilliant way that’s not often heard in festival sets. That being said, the pair understands each other in such a way that it’s hard to even tell where one’s selections began and ended, blurring the line between “back-to-back set” and “collaboration” in a wonderfully organic way. The best moment? A mid-set drop of “Burning” by Paride Saraceni, a sinister techno corker from headliner Adam Beyer’s own Truesoul imprint.

Valentine's sweethearts Adam Beyer & Ida Engberg took the late shift. | Photo: Pearcey Proper

Valentine’s sweethearts Adam Beyer & Ida Engberg took the late shift. | Photo: Pearcey Proper

It wasn’t until 4 AM when couple Adam Beyer and Ida Engberg began their special B2B set, which was a perfect fit to cap off the Valentine’s Day evening. The early part of the performance was marred with a few technical malfunctions (namely, a glitching CDJ), but once the groove came back, the full floor of the Hammerstein Ballroom continued to soak in the bombastic bliss of techno’s sweet embrace until the lights came on at a ripe 6 AM.

Overall, Awakenings’ first US showing was a gallant success. With a top-notch roster of talent, great vibes, and a surprisingly appropriate venue, it’s paved the way for what is sure to be a new winter home away from home for the Awakenings family for many years to come.